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FAA Misleads Public in Conveying Controller Involvement in Agency's Flawed Airspace Redesign Project - (12/10/2008)

CONTACTS:  Eastern Regional Vice President, Phil Barbarello, 516-381-6424; NATCA National Office, Alexandra Caldwell, 202-220-9813, acaldwell@natcadc.org

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In an article posted on the FAA website on December 2, the agency gave several misleading statements regarding the controller workforce.  The article, “Controllers in the Loop to Help Reduce New York Congestions” led readers to believe that NATCA had collaborated with the FAA in improving traffic flow in the New York area and Philadelphia as part of an airspace simulation exercise and forum.

In a letter to FAA Chief Operating Officer Hank Krakowski, NATCA Eastern Regional Vice President Phil Barbarello wrote, “This article can only be seen as an attempt by the agency to provide its readers with a false impression that the agency has been working with air traffic controllers for the betterment of the national airspace system.”

The article claims that a group of controllers from the New York TRACON (Terminal Radar Approach Control) participated in the agency’s forum on airspace redesign.  At no time did the agency invite NATCA to designate union delegates to attend any of the airspace simulation sessions – leaving NATCA to wonder if the failure on the FAA’s part to inform readers of the fact that the agency did not approach NATCA to participate in the simulation sessions was an attempt to convey the support of the union for the agency’s actions. 

In reality only two of the 24 people participating in the forum were air traffic controllers – and they were forced to participate by the FAA under the threat of discipline.  Barbarello addressed this situation in his letter, writing, “Surely, you would agree that there is a significant and meaningful difference between forced attendance and voluntary participation.  It is disingenuous to imply that the men and women who actually operate the national airspace system were involved in this process.”

While NATCA has always supported the promotion of efficiency and safety of the national airspace system the fabricated involvement of NATCA made up by the FAA in this article cannot go unnoticed.  Concluding his letter, Barbarello wrote, “I look forward to working with an Agency, under the direction of a new leadership that values and respects his workforce; not one that holds up the workforce as a shield for its own failures.”

Click Here to read the letter.

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